Web Magazine for Information Professionals

What the Resource Discovery Network Is Doing for Further Education

Mark Williams highlights some of the services that the RDN provides for the benefit of FE users.

The Further Education sector has put significant resources into the development of managed learning environments to support their learners, but however good the technical infrastructure, the learner experience will only be as good as the resources they can access. This is where the RDN [1] can help.

The RDN provides access to leading high-quality Web sites and resources on the Internet for use in learning and teaching. It is a free service, funded by the JISC [2], specifically designed to meet the needs of students and staff in Further and Higher Education. The RDN provides a number of services designed to make locating information on the Internet quicker, easier and more productive.

Locating Resources: The Internet Resource Catalogue

The RDN selects and evaluates over 70,000 of the foremost Web sites and resources. These are chosen by subject specialists, and listed by subject area and resource type. All sites are regularly checked for currency, and new sites are added every day. This means unlike when using other search engines, you can be certain that the sites you find will be useful, relevant to UK education, up-to-date and reliable. The RDN can be used to find: product news, jobs and recruitment sites, resources for vocational careers, tutorials, software, online journals and magazines, company sites etc.

Locating Resources: The subject-based services

Go directly to one of the subject-based services of the RDN to find additional information in your subject area. The RDN Subject services are:

Training using the Internet: VTS

The RDN has responded to the need of the sector to develop the necessary skills to use the Internet effectively with the creation of the RDN Virtual Training Suite for Further Education. This currently comprises 16 free online subject-based tutorials on developing effective information skills for FE students. They can be used stand-alone or within a VLE. They provide both a means for staff and students to learn how to use the Internet within their own area of interest and an excellent introduction to online resources available for a given subject area. They develop both search and evaluation skills of learners. More information is available in the Virtual Training Suite [11] on the RDN Web site.

RDN in FE teaching: RDN case studies

The RDN recognises that many tutors in the FE sector will not always have the time required to search out the sites that they may want to use with their students or the time to integrate the sites within their own teaching plan. The RDN case studies have been developed in order to signpost the most useful resources for delivering specific elements of the curriculum and provide clear ideas on how they can be integrated into a scheme of work. More information is available from the Case Studies area [12] on the RDN Web site.

Topical Resources: Behind the Headlines

BTH gives you background information on topical news stories. It is updated every day and the stories are selected with their relevance to the FE curriculum in mind. So if FE lecturers want their students to find out more about a particular current affairs story, they can direct them to the Behind the Headlines hotlink on the RDN homepage and this will point out the resources guaranteed to be relevant to that topic.

Training Materials

Although the RDN offers training sessions through the JISC Regional Support Centres (RSCs), we obviously encourage institutions to incorporate training concerning the service within their own staff development programmes. To support this, RDN posters and presentations describing how to get the best from the Web are available in the Training area [13] of the RDN Web site. Specific support or advice on running staff development on the RDN within FE institutions is readily available from the RDN [1] or the author.

Supporting your VLE

The RDN can obviously be accessed directly through its own hyperlink [1], but the RDN's services can also be used from within one's own Web site or as part of course materials. A downloadable RDN searchbox, RDN-Include [14] allows searching of the RDN from within one's site. It can be easily incorporated within an institution's VLE or Internet site allowing bespoke customisation. An example of how the University of Glamorgan has done this is available on its Web site [15]. You can also include a news feed of the latest RDN resources into your site which will automatically be updated daily. More information is available on the RDN-Include [14] page.

Developing for the Future

The RDN serves both the FE and HE community but recognises that while both have much in common, FE also has many particular demands. In order to meet these demands the RDN is enhancing its Internet record catalogue with over 14,000 Internet resources that will sit within an FE-specific catalogue with a bespoke search interface. These records will contain information on the resources of particular interest to FE users, such as mapping to curriculum area and level as well as an FE notes field.

In order to meet the FE requirements of ready-to-use resources, 24 learning pathways highlighting the curriculum uses of many of these resources will also be developed. As ever, the work will be done by subject specialists (and in this case from the FE sector), with the quality assurance which the RDN regards as essential.

Finally, the RDN is working with FERL [16] and other FE agencies, looking not only to make resources easier to find but also to make the FE sector online environment simpler to navigate.

What the RDN Hubs Can Do for Your Subject

Discover in what specific ways the RDN subject services can support your subject by following links below to information in this issue from each subject service with respect to FE resources.

ALTIS, the guide to Internet resources in hospitality, leisure, sport and tourism [17]

artifact, the guide to quality Internet resources in the Arts and Creative Industries [18]

BIOME, the guide to quality Internet resources in the health and life sciences [19]

EEVL, the internet guide to engineering, mathematics and computing [20]

GEsource, the geography and environment gateway [21]

Humbul, the humanities hub for accessing online humanities resources [22]

PSIgate, the physical sciences information gateway [23]

SOSIG, the guide to the best of the Web for Social Science [24]


  1. The Resource Discovery Network http://www.rdn.ac.uk/
  2. The Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) http://www.jisc.ac.uk/
  3. Altis http://www.altis.ac.uk/
  4. Artifact http://www.artifact.ac.uk/
  5. BIOME http://biome.ac.uk/
  6. EEVL http://www.eevl.ac.uk/
  7. Gesource http://www.gesource.ac.uk/
  8. Humbul http://www.humbul.ac.uk/
  9. PSIgate http://www.psigate.ac.uk/
  10. SOSIG http://www.sosig.ac.uk/
  11. RDN Virtual Training Suite http://www.vts.rdn.ac.uk/
  12. RDN Case Studies http://www.rdn.ac.uk/casestudies/
  13. Training Materials http://www.rdn.ac.uk/training/
  14. RDN-Include http://www.rdn.ac.uk/rdn-i/
  15. "Search the Internet Find quality Web resources - with the Resource Discovery Network" University of Glamorgan Web site page,
  16. FERL http://ferl.becta.org.uk/display.cfm?page=1
  17. How Altis Can Help the Further Education Sector, Ariadne Issue 38, 2004 http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue38/altis/
  18. What's in Artifact for Further Education?, Ariadne Issue 38, 2004 http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue38/artifact/
  19. Further Education and BIOME, Ariadne Issue 38, 2004 http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue38/biome/
  20. What's in EEVL for Further Education?, Ariadne Issue 38, 2004 http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue38/eevl/
  21. What's in GEsource for Further Education?, Ariadne Issue 38, 2004 http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue38/gesource/
  22. What's in Humbul for Further Education?, Ariadne Issue 38, 2004 http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue38/humbul/
  23. What's in PSIgate for Further Education?, Ariadne Issue 38, 2004 http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue38/psigate/
  24. What's in SOSIG for Further Education?, Ariadne Issue 38, 2004 http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue38/sosig/

Author Details

Mark Williams
RDN FE Manager,
Resource Discovery Network

Email: mark.5.williams@kcl.ac.uk
Web site: http://www.rdn.ac.uk/ Tel: 020 78482501

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